Season-Extending Techniques for Your School Gardens
Are you the lone garden volunteer at your school through the summer months? Is your school empty over summer break? Consider only growing during the school year, by using season-extending techniques like row covers and cold frames, or growing crops and flowers better suited to the “shoulder season” (spring and fall). Join Upper Valley Farm to School on a field trip to the Sullivan County Department of Natural Resources in Unity, New Hampshire. Department staff, Lionel Chute and Phylicia Schwartz will tour us through the Conservation District’s Community Garden, Demonstartion pollinator garden, and experimental high tunnels to discuss focusing school gardens to be most active in the spring and fall.
Date: Thursday, May 26, 2016
Time: 4-6:30 PM
Location: Sullivan County Complex, 95 County Farm Road, Unity, NH
We’ve planted our garden beds on the south facing walls. We’ve put in radishes, lettuce and carrots. It’s an early start, but with the warm weather and the sun that hits this area, we already see evidence of growth! We also are experimenting with planting some garlic. Since we are having some cooler weather now, we went out before the frost and put a few rows of garlic in. We are hoping the frost tricks it into growing! Finally, plans for our annual, Farm and Field Day, are being finalized. This year’s event will take place on May 26th! – Keenan Haley, Teacher, Sharon Elementary School, Sharon, VT
Thetford Elementary Continues to be a model school with our award winning recycling program, school gardens, composting system, and our solar array. I am pleased to announce that VT SWEEP (Vermont State-Wide Environmental Education Programs) has recognized TES as a model school. We were invited, as one of four schools, to present part of our story at the Cultivating Climate Resiliency conference on, April 9th in Montpelier. During the workshop we highlighted the First Grade Farm Stand as a project-based learning opportunity that integrated learning standards across the curriculum. – Cat Buxton, Garden Coordinator, Thetford Elementary School, Thetford, VT
The Tunbridge Central School first and second grade classrooms have been busy hatching eggs. They hatched chickens the last week in March, and ducklings the first week in April. Students candled the eggs to monitor progress and growth until hatching. They also discussed the variety of chick colors and sizes once they hatched, as well as how quickly they grow. Many students, even some who are typically hesitant to read, took turns reading to the chicks. In addition to hatching chicks inside, both grades also took advantage of the warm weather outside by tilling their garden to prepare for planting. They plan to start lettuce, tomato and spinach plants in their classrooms by mid-April. – Jen Thygesen, Farm to School Coordinator, Tunbridge Elementary School, Tunbridge, VT
Do you love food, farmers’ markets and fun? The Valley Food & Farm team is looking for a seasonal project coordinator. View the job description here or call Beth at (802)291-9100 with questions
Last week I joined the Hartland Elementary School’s farm to school committee. Forming a farm to school committee is one of the most efficient ways to plan and deliver farm to school programming. We had a wonderful meeting and left ready to look at enhancing the already wonderful farm to school program. One of the steps we will be working on is planning for the coming year. Planning can be daunting but it can also have huge rewards. Having a farm to school committee in place can help with the development of an action plan for your program. With a well constructed farm to school committee that includes representation from teachers, administration, facilities, and food service your planning process will be inclusive and exhaustive. I would love to be part of more farm to school committees in the Upper Valley and help facilitate the planning process that meets the needs of your school. Please contact me with questions about the process and how your school can benefit.
Farm to School Coordinator
We are busy planning our Farm and Field Day that will take place in June. We are contacting farmers and planning stations that will highlight a variety of farm activities.
Our Junior Iron Chef teams are also busy getting ready for this year’s event. We will have two teams competing and trying to defend their title!
The Friday before vacation the first and second graders at Hartland Elementary School participated in a nutritious cooking program. They were learning about chemical changes in science with Mrs. Cramer. This included, going from a solid to a liquid, liquid to a gas and physical or chemical changes. They also learned about important components of a healthy breakfast. They were taught that our bodies need fuel for the day to learn and that we need to start out our day with good nutrition for strong bodies, clear minds, and good moods! They made healthy banana pancakes, scrambled eggs, orange juice, butter, and smoothies.
Each grade made the breakfast and then they sat down together to eat. A great way to celebrate all that we learned!
Third and fourth grade students from Strafford’s Newton School grew seven types of soil sprouts in the classroom. Students each planted a tray with a one variety of seed. After four days in a dark, warm place they were moved to the sunny grow lab. It’s fun to watch them turn green so quickly! Within about ten days from planting the sprouts are ready to harvest, wash, and taste! Students will vote on which varieties to keep growing.